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Mabining Mandirigma: A hero’s reminder of what we fought against

Text and photos by Sanafe Marcelo

I was transported back in time as I sat mesmerized in the darkened theater, melodic voices enveloping my body, stirring my soul. I did not want to miss every single line by Nicanor Tiongson in this Chris Mallado-directed musical. Veteran stage actor and activist Monique Wilson enthralling me and the rest of the audience as Apolinario Mabini.

Scenes narrated the political intrigues in the time of Mabini, the main protagonist and one of the most important figures in Philippine history. As the “brains of the revolution against Spain,” the play showed how Mabini struggled to uphold the revolution and defend our Inang Bayan (nation).

Mabining Mandrigma means “The Gentle Warrior.”  The play is a precise presentation of who Mabini was, a gentle, revolutionary warrior despite his disability.

Monique Wilson is remarkable in her portrayal of the hero. Her heart and sincerity reverberates throughout the play, cloaking the audience like a thick fog in the early morn. What is exceptional is, she portrays a male character and ably carries it off. Such is her versatility, no doubt infused with the same fervor for national liberation as the hero she portrays. Her powerful voice rises among her co-actors, entertaining, teaching, imploring, as Mabini did during the years when a reasoned voice was most needed. 

The play’s anachronistic costumes were brilliantly designed by James Reyes, powerful messages in themselves. The cog wheels and the big classic clock as vital parts of the stage design help audience visualize the past’s connection with the present. The play also reminds the enthralled audience that young men and women answered the clarion sounded, a reminder so apt these days when young activists are vilified by their elders who, it seems, have forgotten this.

The songs marked the play’s progression. Their line evoked deep meaning, such that when the closing song begged, ‘Mahalin mo ang Pilipinas nang higit sa iyong sarili,’ there could have been no one that did not fight back tears. Indeed, some gave in and cried at Mabini’s tragedy, our history’s failure, our nation’s sorrow.

The play reminds us that history does repeat itself. What Mabini confronted in his day confronts us in ours. It begs the question, “Whatever our heroes sacrificed their lives for when, more than a hundred years after their mortal bodies have rejoined their beloved soil, we are still battling the very same demons?”

Mabining Mandirigma, an award-winning musical by the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ (CCP) resident theater group Tanghalang Pilipino, is being staged for the fourth time at the CCP. It runs until September 1. #

‘Mabining Mandirigma’ restages at CCP

The Cultural Center of the Philippines stages the award-winning steampunk musical ‘Mabining Mandirigma’. It is produced by Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the CCP..

First staged four years ago, it is Tanghalang Pilipino’s 33rd season opener. It runs from August 16 to September 1.

Veteran stage actor Monique Wilson plays Apolinario Mabini, the first Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines. It presents Mabini’s ideals and the challenges he faced. It focuses on Mabini’s life as the top adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo during the Philippine-American War, his imprisonment in Intramuros, his exile to Guam in 1901, and his death months after his return to the Philippines in 1903. #

One Billion Rising 2019 condemns abuse of women and children

Women’s groups Gabriela and Babae Ako, along with other progressive organizations gathered for the annual One Billion Rising (OBR) 2019 at Rajah Sulayman Park in Manila last February 16.

With the theme “Rise, Resist, Unite! Labanan ang abuso sa Babae, Bata at Bayan”, the event condemned what it called the Rodrigo Duterte administration’s misogynist and tyrannical attacks against women and people.

According to Gabriela, OBR 2019 was part of the continuing global campaign to end violence against women and to show solidarity with women from all around the world who are rising and raging against all forms of violence against women, especially those perpetrated by the state.

Through street dancing and protest, the groups vowed to intensify their struggle for women’s dignity, democracy and people’s welfare. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

One Billion Rising 2017 to focus on violence of poverty

One Billion Rising international coordinator Monique Wilson led the launch of the fifth year of its annual event with the theme “Solidarity against exploitation of women.”

Through dances and songs it has popularized since 2011, Wilson said their next celebration would focus on poverty and how it worsens the other injustices they suffer.

The One Billion Rising campaign again expects millions of women to gather on February 14 in countries all over the world.

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OBR2015: Rising for Revolution

One Billion Rising (OBR) Global Coordinator Monique Wilson, with Gabriela Sec-Gen Joms Salvador, announces the big event slated for V-Day, Feb. 14, 2015. Rep. Emmi de Jesus of Gabriela Women’s Partylist calls for truth and accountability in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy.